WeepingintoDancing

Overcoming Difficult Trials

Archive for the category “Forgiveness”

Easter: Victory Over Death

 

*Easter

Easter is a time when Christians around the world remember the incredible love sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Our Savior’s willingness to step down from His heavenly throne, take on flesh, and die in a most gruesome way, is proof of His amazing devotion and affection for us all. He looked past our sins because He desired relationship and fellowship with His creation. He bore the cost of our sins, nailing them to the cross. Thanks to HIS righteousness we too are righteous, now able to stand before God as His adopted children.

And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”     1 Corinthians 15:4 (NKJV)

Therefore, since we are now united with Christ in the likeness of His death and resurrection we resist all evil. We are no longer slaves to the enticements of this world. Jesus, our eternal hope, is the doorway through which all sin is conquered. Our “old man” has been crucified with Christ and we have been reborn. With hearts laid down in humble submission, eternal life is our promised reward.

For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.”   Romans 6:4-9 (NKJV)

And since we are now in Christ, we have become a new creation. Old things… such as lustful passions, deceptions, ungodly habits, and evil desires are to be put away. We are called to walk as children of light. The light of Jesus should be so bright within us that all who are lost and spiritually dead are drawn to it, and therefore to Christ Himself.

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”   John 3:6 (NKJV)

Jesus came into this world to give and serve. We too should live a life of selflessness and service. Paul passionately beseeched fellow believers in Romans 12:1-2 to present their bodies as living sacrifices, “holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”

When we serve others, we serve God. The body He created for you and for me is perfect, designed exactly for His sovereign will and purpose. Every talent and gift, weakness and flaw, strength and disability was given to us for a reason. It helps to remember that when we are weak His power and strength becomes evident to all. God will use what we consider personal flaws for His glory.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”   Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

We praise Jesus for His love and sacrifice. We give Him thanks for reuniting us with the Father and for perpetually interceding on our behalf. We rejoice in the promise of eternal life, recognizing Christ’s victory over sin and death. We exalt God for His mercy and grace and thank Him for the sweet fellowship He offers His adopted children.

Jesus died on the cross because He wanted to free us from sinful wandering and restore our relationship with the heavenly Father. Unity and fellowship is of great importance to our Creator. And although we are each unique in design, we are meant to be bound together as one. As a united whole we make up the entire body of Christ. Just as Jesus and the Father are one, we too are to stand unified with each other AND with God. This can only be done if we forgive trespasses and submit to God’s sovereign authority.

“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”   John 17:20-23 (NKJV)

As Christ died and rose again, let us too die to sin and rise up as beacons of light.

Oh death… where is your sting? Has Christ Jesus not given us victory over you? Has He not promised all who call upon His name the gift of eternal life? Blessed be our Savior! Jesus! JESUS! Precious Jesus! There is awesome power in Your holy name!

“’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 (NIV)

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins” Ephesians 2:1 (NKJV)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”          Romans 6:4 (NKJV)

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

“That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” Romans 10:9 (NKJV

And He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NKJV)

“The only thing I can give to God is ‘My right to myself.’ If I will give God that, He will make a holy experiment out of me, and God’s experiments always succeed.”   ~ Oswald Chambers.

Interview With God

*0

http://vimeo.com/8898059

“So you would like to interview Me?” God Asked

“If you have the time.” I said

“My time is ETERNITY. What questions do you have in mind for me?”

“What surprises you most about humankind?”

God answered, “That they get bored with childhood. They rush to grow up and then long to be children again. They lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health. That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future. That they live as if they will never die, and die as if they had never lived.”

I asked “As a parent, what are some of life’s lessons You want Your children to learn?”

God replied with a smile….

“To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. To learn they cannot make anyone love them. What they CAN do is let themselves be loved. To learn that a RICH PERSON is NOT one who has the most, but is one who needs the least. To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and it takes many years to heal them. To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness. To learn that there are persons who love them dearly but simply do not know how to express or show their feelings. To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it differently. To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others. But that they must forgive themselves.”

“Thank You for Your time” I said humbly. “Is there anything else You would like Your children to know?”

“TO LEARN THAT I AM HERE…. ALWAYS.”

The Promise of Forgiveness

*Jesus Forgives

1 John 1:9 is a PROMISE. We will find forgiveness in Christ if we confess our sins and repent of our ways. This is a blessed assurance. God will never say, “No, I will not accept your confession of sin and heart felt apology. I do not forgive you. I do not want a relationship with you.”

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”   1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Some of you may know the heartache of unforgiveness. After humbling yourself and apologizing for a wrong, hoping to restore a broken relationship or bring healing to someone, you were rebuffed or ignored. Your cry to be forgiven was not met with love or a consoling pardon. The pain of unforgiveness is heart wrenching. All one can do is act on what the scriptures instruct and pray, leaving the rest to God.

Thankfully, we will never suffer this rejection with God. He accepts our plea for forgiveness and casts the memory of our sin as far as the east is from the west. We have been washed in the blood and sacrifice of the Lamb. Our Creator longs for an intimate relationship with us and since all sin separates us from His presence, He forgives us repeatedly.

We cannot however change people, or their reaction to our sin. We can only work on changing ourselves…. with God’s grace. Because God loves us, He works to perfect and refine our spirits until they eventually reflect back the very image of Christ. This act of sanctification requires man to lay aside pride and self-will. Everyone comes to the place of absolute surrender at a different time in life. Through the revelation of the Holy Spirit, we eventually come to understand the necessity for making greater room in our hearts for God.

He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30 (NIV)

A conflict between two people means that there are TWO individuals who need to work together on the resolution. One may want change and restoration but the other might not. We can influence people in a positive way by walking in the light, but God alone refines and transforms the heart. If one person is not willing or ready to consider forgiveness, reconciliation is put on hold.

There is always the hope of a restored relationship but sin, even confessed sin, will change an association in some way. We are not like God who is able to forget wrongs and cast them beyond His memory. Broken trust takes time to heal. It takes work and patience, understanding and tolerance. Wounds heal but some scars remain. Maybe the scar will serve as a testimony of God’s healing power, a witness to others who are living in broken relationships.

A restored relationship gives glory to God. It can become even better after suffering through affliction, betrayal, and sin. Love is the healing balm that makes this possible. Love is the greatest gift of all and can cover a multitude of sins, if we are willing to lay down our own pain and offer the wrongdoer (It usually takes two individuals to make a wrong and therefore two are necessary to make it right again) absolution.

Hold on to the promise that ALL of your sins are forgiven when you repent to God, even the unforgiven sins held against you by someone with a hard heart. You are cleansed from all unrighteousness the minute you confess to God. He pardons all unrighteousness and grants absolution. Guilt does not come from God, just Holy Spirit conviction that leads to humble repentance. You have been forgiven. You are forgiven. By the blood of Jesus Christ you are freely forgiven.

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;And I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25 (NKJV)

 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

He does not treat us as our sins deserveor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,so great is His love for those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west,so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:10-12 (NIV)

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” ~ C.S. Lewis                                 

This devotion is from my book FACING ADVERSITY: THOUGHTS OF WISDOM, PRAISE, AND PROMISE. You will find it on Amazon the first week of December. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Cheryl%20Zelenka&sprefix=Chery%2Caps

A Wise Man Holds Back Anger

*Prvb 29-11

“Anger and bitterness are two noticeable signs of being focused on self and not trusting God’s sovereignty in your life. When you believe that God causes all things to work together for good to those who belong to Him and love Him, you can respond to trials with joy instead of anger or bitterness.” ~ John C. Boger                        http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-anger-20-scripture-quotes/#ixzz2X4DVGzdI

He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.” Proverbs 14:29 (NAS)

At some point, everyone loses his or her temper. For each of us there is a different trigger and reason for loosing control. The book of Proverbs calls a man who looses his temper a fool. Wisdom and patience is the key to battling your issues with anger.

We often loose our self-control; a Fruit of the Spirit, when something we want is delayed. There is the old saying, “Good things are worth waiting for,” but there are also many Bible verses that mention patience and waiting as well.

Numbers 14:18 tells us that God is “slow to anger and abounding in love.” We are to take God’s traits and strive to be imitators of Christ. If God is slow to anger then we should try to do the same. This requires righteous living so that the Fruit of the Spirit is evident in our lives.

Both patience and self-control are listed in Galatians 5:22-23 as components of the Fruit of the Spirit. They help to keep anger issues in check. The trick is to live a righteous life so that these virtues are evident and manifest themselves in our every day living.

Our own selfish desires can also provoke us to anger. We quarrel with others when we don’t get what we want. We put our expectations onto others and forget to consider whether what we want is also best for them. Adults throw ugly temper tantrums without the excuse of being a toddler and it is very unpleasant to behold.

Stress can also trigger anger. We lash out and say things we later regret, which only complicates a problem even further. This is foolish and probably why the Bible includes more than one proverbs warning to keep watch over our tongue and fury. Nobody wants to be considered a fool. Nobody wants to be a fool. Heeding the wisdom found in the Book of Proverbs will allow us to be a better witness of God’s love.

ARE YOU LOOSING YOUR TEMPER AS OF LATE? DO YOU KNOW THE CAUSE? PRAY ABOUT IT AND ASK GOD TO CULTIVATE THE VIRTUE OF SELF-CONTROL.

“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” Proverbs 21:23 (NKJV)

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?“ James 4:1 (NKJV)

“So then,my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20 (NKJV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (NAS)

This devotion is in my upcoming book FACING ADVERSITY: THOUGHTS OF WISDOM, PRAISE, AND PROMISE  Look for it on Amazon this December and find my other 3 books at this site   http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Cheryl%20Zelenka&sprefix=Chery%2Caps

Trials Are Full Of Hidden Blessings

 

*Joseph

When a trial comes your way, do you groan and think of it as an ordeal to muddle through? Is your first reaction fear and dread, or do you see each new struggle with more positive eyes? The love of Jesus can shed light on your difficulties and bring about a change in your perspective. Trials are actually opportunities chock full of hidden blessings.

“Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.”  – Anonymous

Consider the story of Joseph. He was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. He was forced to live in a foreign land without family.

“Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.  The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.  And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand.  So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.”  Genesis 39:1-4 (NKJV)

One might think Joseph had suffered enough by this time and that God would continue to bless him in the home of Potiphar. Maybe Joseph was content with his position as his master’s overseer. But God had bigger plans for Joseph, a bigger house for him to oversee, so He continued to test and refine him.

Joseph caught the eye of Potiphar’s wife, who aggressively pursued him and asked for sexual favors. Unwilling to lie with her, he ran from temptation. Because of Joseph’s righteousness and unwillingness to sin, he found himself in the middle of a new trial. Although He had been kidnapped, made to live as a slave in a foreign land, was absent from all family support, he was sent to prison …. But the Lord’s favor followed him.

“So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, ‘Your servant did to me after this manner,’ that his anger was aroused. Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. 

But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority,because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.” Genesis 39:19-23 (NKJV)

So once again Joseph found himself in a position of leadership and authority with responsibilities he never asked for or expected. God was using difficult circumstances to sharpen the spiritual gifts within Joseph. Leadership requires the ability to gain the trust of others. Adversity will try to rob us of our hope but Joseph persevered. He gained wisdom from living through his struggles, and because of his perseverance and faith, he later became a man many would follow and respect.

After some time in prison, Pharaoh called Joseph to his throne room to interpret a troublesome dream. The Lord provided Joseph with insight and was given the Pharaoh’s favor. After years of slavery and prison life, Joseph was given the unexpected honor of overseeing the Pharaoh’s entire house. He was only 30 years old.

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.”  And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 41:39-40 (NKJV)

The Pharaoh’s dream spoke of 7 years of feast and 7 years of famine. Joseph was placed in charge of collecting grain and storing it for the lean years ahead.

Joseph married and had children. He saw how God had blessed him but there were even more blessings to come. The drought was affecting his homeland and his brothers went to Egypt seeking resources. Joseph recognized them and was able to help. God restored his family relationships and also blessed him with position, wealth, and honor.

The Word calls a man blessed, if he can remain steadfast under a trial (Js.1:12). By withstanding the test in front of him he will receive the crown of life. This crown is promised to those who love God. It is rewarded to believers who endure suffering and remain faithful to God, even to the point of death. There are eternal rewards for remaining steadfast in faith.

We do not know all the twists and turns in our spiritual journey but God does, and He has a very good plan on how to use us. Joseph did not know the reasons for all his trouble but he remained faithful. As a child, the Lord gave Joseph a hint of his future position but never any details. Through tests and much suffering, God refined Joseph into a man of integrity and faith.

Why not take your present adversity and consider it as a stepping-stone to a hidden blessing from God? It took God some time to prepare Joseph for his position. Your refinement will take time too. Have faith in your Lord. There are blessings in each day and in your future. Above all, glorify God in good times and bad times, just like Joseph.

“I can do all things through Christ[ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you willhave tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NKJV)

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12 (NKJV)

“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10 (NKJV)

“The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” ~ Chuck Swindoll

http://christian-quotes.ochristian.com/Attitude-Quotes/

The Great Commission: Patience Required

*Fruit:Patience

This is a devotional from my next book FACING STORMS: A DEVOTIONAL FOR THOUGHT AND MEDITATION

We have a great commission in life. We are called to make disciples of all the nations, including our own country. So, the rude co-worker and obnoxious neighbor is part of our assignment. God loves His entire creation and wants every person to accept Him as his or her Lord and Savior. This is every Christian’s most important calling and mission in life.

“It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to his neighbor.”   ~ Martin Luther

No, this appointment is not an easy one, but neither is loving a people who falls so short of God’s morality. Thankfully, God refuses to give up on us and throw in the towel. He perseveres in demonstrating His love daily and in every moment. He longs for our fellowship and makes Himself available at all times. He creates incredible sunsets for our enjoyment and gives pleasure in so many different ways. His heart and passion belongs to us so, to model Him, our passion should be for the lost…. Be they ever so challenging.

People who rub us the wrong way are the means God uses to sand off our rough edges. They are placed in our life for OUR benefit. For by having them near us, we soon see our shortcomings and identify the weak areas in our character and spiritual walk.

Are you an impatient person? Ask for patience and God will surely send someone your way that challenges your temperance. Only by God’s blessed grace will you see a righteous gift of compassion birthed in your heart. Your self-control and forbearance will astound you. The sincere love and affection you are meant to feel for this person will deepen over time. So profound will it become, if you practice it daily, you will find yourself perplexed at how you ever saw them as a thorn or irritant in your side.

Will you choose kindness over selfish actions of rudeness? Will you overlook an offense and remember the many times God has forgiven you? Through simple acts of love, you can change a stony heart into a softer one, a heart the Creator can easily fashion and mold into something new.

Discernment will be given for the sake of intercession. Do not gawk at their sin or find pleasure in fault-finding. The Spirit will guide you as you pray and witness to them. Once hard to love (only because their wounds had made them fearful and prickly) they will drop their thorns and rest in your company. Reckless words will cause much damage but wise words of encouragement bring much fruit. By establishing trust, they will share another side with you, one only a precious few have witnessed. It will be an honor to behold.

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go thereforeand make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me[a] in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”Acts 1:8 (NKJV)

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:15 (NKJV)

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”Luke 19:10 (NKJV)

“Yet if we would know God and for other’s sake tell what we know we must try to speak of his love. All Christians have tried but none has ever done it very well. I can no more do justice to that awesome and wonder-filled theme than a child can grasp a star. Still by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. So as I stretch my heart toward the high shining love of God someone who has not before known about it may be encouraged to look up and have hope.” ~ A.W. Tozer

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” ~ C.S. Lewis

 

God Will Soften A Hard Heart

This is a devotion from my next book, FACING STORMS: DEVOTIONS FOR THOUGHT AND MEDITATION. Be sure to check out my other books on Amazon!                           

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=cheryl%20zelenka&sprefix=chery%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Acheryl%20zelenka

*Hard Heart

“You will begin to heal yourself when you let go of the things that hurt you in the past, forgive those who have done wrong to you and learn to forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made.” – Anonymous

“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; 
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)

Jesus suffered many physical injuries on His road to Calvary. The beatings, whipping, and crucifixion left him barely recognizable, even to His family and friends. Because of His great love for us, He took up the cross. It is by His wounds that we are healed. It is through His blood sacrifice that our sins have been forgiven.

Jesus took the sins of the world and pinned them to the cross. Through this act of love, and through His resurrection, we no longer need to fear death. Eternal life has been granted to everyone who repents and acknowledges Jesus as his or her Lord in Savior! In addition to this glorious gift, we have a constant hope through the assurance of grace. With our sincere confession of sin, forgiveness is always granted.

Why, when we have such a forgiving Savior as our role model, do we wrestle with the issue of forgiveness….. Both in giving it and receiving it? Did not our Lord love us first, even while we were blemished by sin and active in worldly pursuits? Should we not be grateful that He looks past the sin we still struggle with and recognizes the being we have yet to become?

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Oh my, what a friend we have in Jesus! Contemplate His sacrifice! He left His heavenly realm to live as flesh and blood, then willingly died to set us, The Captives (to sin and death) free.

Mercifully, God has equipped you and I to overcome every adversity in life. Through faith and the gift of prayer, we may call upon His supernatural strength any time we feel weak, overwhelmed, or discouraged. He is always willing to help, advise, protect, encourage…. And forgive! He wants to commune and fellowship with us. Since sin separates us from His presence, He is constantly pardoning His children.

Rebellion and personal sin will intensify personal sufferings, so your obedience and submission is factored in to how well you weather a storm. Sin, disobedience, and rebellion always complicates life. Even so, what REALLY matters is the following point. If you acknowledge and confess your sins, you will ALWAYS receive forgiveness. Jesus never ignores a sincerely repentant heart.

So once again I ask, why do we withhold forgiveness when others ask it of us? Is it possibly due to a cold and hardened heart? If so, how is a hardened heart mended?

A hardened heart is surely a sign of an unhealthy spiritual state. With all probability, it belongs to a hungry and thirsty soul who has neglected the Word of God and the Springs of Living Waters. It has become parched and weak for a lack of supernatural spiritual food and water.

A hardened heart needs to hear the loving and healing promises within the Word of God. However, the difficulty comes in getting the loved one to listen. In all probability, they have not been open to the wise counsel of others and has stopped communicating with God, even ignoring prompts from the Holy Spirit. The truths within the Word can supernaturally break through all self-protection, pain, and anger. It will eventually untangle the lies Satan crafted and therefore crack the marble heart of stone. Look for opportunities to share even the shortest of scriptures with this person.

Another important part to healing a hard heart is fellowship. All of us have sinned. When somebody is not walking in close communion with the Lord, they usually avoid any interaction with others who are. They tend to become anti-social and isolated. This solitude gives the Devil a foothold and even more opportunity to tempt, deceive, and lie.

It requires a humble heart, softened by the prayers of others, to acknowledge a detour from the path of God. Pride is a sin we are all guilty of and it will lead to spiritual stagnation, decay or even death. However, once a hardened soul decides to enter back into fellowship with the Body of Christ, and honestly faces what has hardened their heart, peace and joy will once again return to their life. Unforgiveness is a ball and chain. It is tightly fastened around the leg of those who refuse to forgive.

Forgiving yourself of past sins is also required if you want a softer and more pliable heart. When you refuse to forgive yourself (and others) you dishonor Christ and all He did for you on the cross, and through His resurrection.

When you confess sin, it is cast as far as the east is from the west and is forgotten. Please, dear reader, stop reminding your Father of things He has already forgiven and forgotten. He was beaten and bruised so that you would not have to suffer an eternity absent from His glorious presence. He wants you to rest in this truth: By His wounds you are healed.

Will you not extend forgiveness and provide healing for the one wounded by your unwillingness to forgive and forget?

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)

“As far as the east is from the west, 
so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 (NIV)

“ Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”   John 15:13 (NIV)

“It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:5 (NIV)

“God pardons like a mother, who kisses the offense into everlasting forgiveness.” ~ Henry W. Beecher

We Share In The Sufferings Of Christ

Easter-3 Croses

“And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center.”  John 19:17-18 (NKJV)

For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:5 (NIV)

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, understands our pain. He IS our friend and blessed Redeemer. When He left His heavenly throne and took on human form (for our sakes), He endured all the frailty found in our fleshly bodies. Not one abuse, sorrow, trouble, struggle or upset we experience was absent from His life. He lived them all. He is a Lord full of great compassion and understanding when it comes to mankind.

Jesus had siblings and is well aware of the ins and outs of family life.  There were bound to be jealousies and misunderstandings within His earthly family. Although He was without sin, He experienced the sting of insults from those closest to Him. He understands family dynamics.

He knew the pain of a friend’s betrayal. Disappointment was no stranger to our Savior. Emotional ties are often entangled with some sort of sin and can cause great pain, for love is a tender feeling. Surely Judas broke His heart.

If you have had to suffer through a desperate and painful time without the support of friends and family, Jesus understands your struggle. Did He not face His death with only His mother, His Aunt, Mary Magdalene, and the apostle John? Where were the rest of the apostles? Where were His earthly siblings?

When Christ carried His cross to Golgotha, He did so in a weakened state. His 40 lashes and beatings had weakened Him to the point of utter exhaustion.  Here comes a wondrous concept. Jesus, of the holy Trinity and God in flesh, could not physically carry His cross. It was too much for Him to bear. He experienced human weakness and the Roman soldiers compelled a Simon a Cyrenian to bear His cross. 

“Then they compelled a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, the father of Alexander and Rufus, as he was coming out of the country and passing by, to bear His cross.  And they brought Him to the place Golgotha, which is translated, Place of a Skull.”  Mark 15:21-22 (NKJV)

We are all expected to carry our own burdens in life but when a strain comes our way that is beyond our ability to withstand, God will send us help. He will provide ways to endure and carry on with the task He has assigned.

By showing kindness to those suffering, we share in their sufferings. Just as Simon helped to carry the same cross of Jesus, we are to carry the same cross of others when they are too worn to move forward. God permits us the blessing of sharing in His sufferings. This is a gift worth rejoicing over!

Praise the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! He knows our weaknesses and understands our limitations. He calls on and provides others to share in our anguish. In love, they willingly take on burdens we cannot shoulder or sustain. Through prayers, acts of love, and physical acts of assistance we can all share in each others trouble and connect as one church and one body, through the blood of our Savior.….. Jesus Christ.

Certainly it is by His wounds that we are all healed.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)

“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17 (NIV)

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’  Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.” John 19:25-17 (NKJV)

“No healthy Christian ever chooses suffering; he chooses God’s will, as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not.”
― Oswald Chambers

What Will You Lay At The Foot Of The Cross?

Jesus on Cross

“Our sins twisted the crown of thorns; our sins drove the nails into His hands and feet; on account of our sins His blood was shed. Surely the thought of Christ crucified should make us loathe all sin.”  ~J.C. Ryle

http://eph5v2.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/our-sins-drove-the-nails/

“He (Moses) chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” Hebrews 11:24-26 (NIV)

Martin Luther put it very well when he said, “Sin is, essentially, a departure from God.” When standing in the all-consuming fire of God’s great love, any sins still clinging to our garments will find themselves exposed. Nothing is hidden from our Heavenly Father. He sees all, knows all, and is all. Therefore, it is a spiritually immature child who images iniquity can remain concealed from an all-knowing God.

Our reaction to having personal sins exposed will be one of two possibilities. Either we will shudder and shriek in shame and fall to our knees in humble and contrite repentance, or we will grab onto our sinful vice with unspeakable determination and flee the presence of God….. Choosing temporary pleasure over His grace and forgiveness. Mind you, forgiveness is necessary in order to have fellowship and a true relationship with the Creator.

When Jesus died upon the Calvary cross, He took all of our sins with Him, and then threw the iniquities as far as the east is from the west. Because of His great love for us, He willingly suffered an unthinkable death. It was only through His obedience and sacrifice that a way to the Father was procured. Jesus is THE WAY. He is our mediator! He pleads our case and intercedes on our behalf both day and night. So why, WHY would anyone choose sin over the fellowship offered by God?

Hebrews 11:24 tells us that sin is pleasurable, but fleeting. The human race is obsessed with pleasure, whether it is attained through the food we eat, sex, or objects bought on credit. A juicy steak may delight us for a few moments but the thrill is short lived, and we will soon find ourselves thinking about the next delectable to devour. The flesh is never satisfied.

So sin gives us pleasure but it is only temporary. And because the enjoyment is not long lived, many of us are cursed with the addiction of finding new and better ways to curb our cravings for gratification. With our focus on the “next good thing” we forget that all things in this life will pass away. We ignore the warning to lay up heavenly treasure, where moth and rust have no affect.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be.” If Christ is our treasure, we will crave fellowship with Him. If the lusts of the world are the treasure we desire, we will exit the presence of God in order to pursue them. Being short sighted in such cases is a gross understatement, for those who toss aside the eternal to live for the temporal can’t see past their next pleasure fix. They lack self-control.

The Devil tries to use our sins to erode the significance of our Savior’s death on the cross. He casts out his nets of deception and daily collects a multitude of sinners, entangling them in a latticework woven by human iniquity. Jesus suffered so that all of us might live eternally with Him. When we CHOOSE a life of sin over a life of gratitude and obedience, it is as if we are helping the Roman soldiers hammer the nails in the flesh of Christ. Jesus was crucified for our salvation. Unrepentant sin is our damnation.

Will you continue to hold onto your sins for the mere temporary pleasure they give you, or will you surrender each one now and lay them at the foot of the cross? It is never too late to start! Begin building your treasury in heaven. You will be glad you did, for eternity is for an eternity and life on earth is but a blink of the eye.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”                         Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV)

Forgive and then…. Let God Work

UTR Forgive Us As We Forgive Others

Dear Reaader,

I did not write this post but I wanted to share it with you. The source is at the bottom of this devotion. Over the years, I have been wounded by friends and family who would not offer forgiveness for my sins against them, or acknowledge their own sins against me. I rest in knowing God has forgiven me and that we all fall short of the glory of God. I am a work in progress. Sactification does not happen in a day. It takes a life time. I am a sinner but a child of God who is well loved by her heavenly Father. May we all learn from our mistakes and do what we can to live in peace with each other. Sometimes, we must trust God to “fix” a matter…. in His perfect time.

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6:14-15 (NKJV)

There are people who insist on holding on to resentment, often inventing situations in their minds that never happened, justifying their bad behavior, and putting the blame on others. They see themselves as the abused party, always quick to take offense. Rarely are they able to have healthy relationships, for they are in reality, the abusers. Their world centers around them, and any attempt by others to appease them, only contributes to the anti-social behavior.

Such behavior betrays a deep spiritual and psychological illness, one that is not easily healed. Such people feel empowered by making other people uncomfortable, and normal attempts at rapprochement often end in failure, for such people are always looking for ways to continue their control over others. Their illness is difficult to heal, for their pride and deep seated sense of superiority makes repentance difficult, for they simply don’t see themselves as having a problem.

One of the Desert Fathers tells us of a young monk who came to his elder, complaining that he’d been wronged by one of his brothers, and following the holy tradition of the desert, had gone to the one who had wronged him, asking for forgiveness. The erring brother refused, so the wronged brother wanted to know what he should do in response. The elder told the young monk that he had walked away justified in the eyes of God, and that there was nothing left for him to do, except to pray for his erring brother.

This true story from the Desert Fathers makes clear that we must always be quick to forgive others, even if they were at fault, not remembering the wrong done to us, nor depend on the other cooperating in the reconciliation. Their repentance is not required, for we will be held accountable only for our own response. Before God, we will be justified.

When another person refuses to accept our heartfelt apology, we must be willing to let it be, and walk away, knowing that we’ve done our part. Abusive people such as these, can, if we let them, prevent us from living our own life in Christ, for they keep our focus away from the forgiveness that comes from Christ. When we walk away from such negative people, we walk away having forgiven them, and we commit ourselves to praying for their repentance. There is nothing more we can do.

Keeping our focus on Christ, we do not react, do not resent, and do not lose our inner peace. The sickness that is at the basis of controlling, abusive people, must not be allowed to take away from the inner joy and peace that comes from our personal relationship with Christ.

For your own soul’s sake, and for the soul of the abuser, continue to pray for them, but go your own way, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).”

http://tokandylaki.blogspot.com/2014/03/when-people-dont-forgive.html?m=1

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